bitcoin - search results
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that has no intrinsic value. The only thing giving bitcoin value is the faith that people have in it, and now that faith has been shattered. This week, the most prominent bitcoin exchange in the entire world, Mt. Gox, totally collapsed. At one time, Mt. Gox boasted more than a [...]
Last November, in an act of sheer monetary desperation, the ECB issued an exhaustive, and quite ridiculous, pamphlet titled "Virtual Currency Schemes" in which it mocked and warned about the "ponziness" of such electronic currencies as BitCoin. Why a central bank would stoop so "low" to even acknowledge what no "self-respecting" (sic) PhD-clad economist would even discuss, drunk and slurring, at cocktail parties, remains a mystery to this day. However, that it did so over fears the official artificial currency of the insolvent continent, the EUR, may be becoming even more "ponzi" than the BitCoins the ECB was warning about, was clear to everyone involved who saw right through the cheap propaganda attempt. Feel free to ask any Cypriot if they would now rather have their money in locked up Euros, or in "ponzi" yet freely transferable, unregulated BitCoins.
For the answer, we present the chart showing the price of BitCoin in EUR terms since the issuance of the ECB's paper:
Therein, sadly, lies the rub.
As central banks have been able to manipulate the price of precious metals for decades, using a countless plethora of blatant and not so blatant trading techniques, whether involving "banging the close", abusing the London AM fix, rehypothecating and leasing out claims on gold to short and re-short the underlying, creating paper gold exposure out of thin air with which to suppress deliverable prices, or simply engaging in any other heretofore unknown illegal activity, the parabolic surge in gold and silver has, at least for the time being - and especially since the infamous, and demoralizing May 1, 2011 silver smackdown - lost its mojo.
But while precious metals have been subject to price manipulation by the legacy establishment, even if ultimately the actual physical currency equivalent asset, its "value" naively expressed in some paper currency, may be in the possession of the beholder, to date no price suppression or regulation schemes of virtual currencies existed.
It was thus only a matter of time before the same establishment was forced to make sure that money leaving the traditional M0/M1/M2/M3 would not go into alternative electronic currency venues, but would instead be used to accelerate the velocity of the money used by the legacy, and quite terminal, monetary system.
After all, what if not pushing savers to spend, spend, spend and thus boost the money in circulation, was the fundamental purpose of the recent collapse in faith in savings held with European banks?
So, as we had long expected, the time when the global Keynesian status quo refocused its attention from paper gold and silver prices, to such "virtual" currencies as BitCoin has finally arrived.
The WSJ reports that, "the U.S. is applying money-laundering rules to "virtual currencies," amid growing concern that new forms of cash bought on the Internet are being used to fund illicit activities. The move means that firms that issue or exchange the increasingly popular online cash will now be regulated in a similar manner as traditional money-order providers such as Western Union Co. They would have new bookkeeping requirements and mandatory reporting for transactions of more than $10,000. Moreover, firms that receive legal tender in exchange for online currencies or anyone conducting a transaction on someone else's behalf would be subject to new scrutiny, said proponents of Internet currencies.
And just like that, there goes a major part of the allure of all those virtual currencies such as BitCoin that consumers had turned to, and away from such rapidly devaluing units of exchange as the dollar and euro. Because if there was one medium of exchange that was untouched, unregulated, and unmediated by the US government and other authoritarian, despotic regimes around the insolvent "developed world", it was precisely transactions involving BitCoin.
That is no longer the case, as the bloodhound of the Federal Reserve has now turned its attention toward BitCoin, and will not stop until it crashes both its value to end-users, and its utility, in yet another attempt to force the USD, and other fiat, upon global consumers as the only forms of allowed legal tender.
The rising popularity of virtual currencies, while no more than a drop in the bucket of global liquidity, is being fueled by Internet merchants, as well as users' concerns about privacy, jitters about traditional currencies in Europe and the age-old need to move money for illicit purposes.
The arm of the Treasury Department that fights money laundering said Monday that the standard federal banking rules aimed at suspicious dollar transfers also apply to firms that issue or exchange money that isn't linked to any government and exists only online.
Naturally, the actual object of US monetary persecution, is BitCoin:
"We are beyond the stage where this was just funny money and a fun online thing. This is used as a currency," said Nicolas Christin, associate director of Carnegie Mellon University's Information Networking Institute.
Bitcoins can be used in a host of legitimate transactions—for example, website Reddit allows users to upgrade services using bitcoins and blog service Wordpress.com's store accepts them as a form of payment. Pizzaforcoins.com also lets bitcoin savers pay for deliveries through Domino's and other pizzerias.
The problem with virtual currencies is that defining what is permitted in a narrow regulatory sense, is impossible, which is why any definition will be as broad as possible: after all what better way to spook users than to make virtually any transaction borderline illegal:
Creating clear-cut rules for virtual currencies is difficult. A FinCen official said that anti-money-laundering rules would apply depending on the "factors and circumstances" of each business. The rules don't apply to individuals who simply use virtual currencies to purchase real or virtual goods.
The new guidance "clarifies definitions and expectations to ensure that businesses…are aware of their regulatory responsibilities," said Jennifer Shasky Calvery, FinCen director.
The FBI report last year said Bitcoin attracts cybercriminals who want to move or steal funds. "Bitcoin might also logically attract money launderers and other criminals who avoid traditional financial systems by using the Internet to conduct global monetary transfers," the report said. An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment when asked about the agency's concerns regarding virtual currencies.
We were not the only ones to expect imminent intervention from Big Brother:
Some firms say they anticipated the rules. Charlie Sherm, chief executive of bitcoin payment processor BitInstant, said his company is already compliant.
Mr. Christin of Carnegie Mellon said that he believes Bitcoin's dominant use right now is speculation.
"When you have a commodity or currency whose value has grown as rapidly as Bitcoin it makes sense to hold on to it as a speculative instrument," he said. It also is commonly used for online black markets or gambling sites. "Whether used for money laundering…there is no smoking gun."
As to the question of timing - why now - the answer is simple. Europe. After all, it was only yesterday that we wrote that "In Spain, The Bitcoin Run Has Started." It is self-explanatory that if such an exodus away from legacy currencies and into BitCoin was left unchecked, more and more people would follow suit, which is why it had to be intercepted as early as possible.
The jump in the bitcoin exchange rate this week also coincides with concerns euros could be taken from retail bank accounts in Cyprus to fund a bailout. Internet blogs say speculators are looking toward currency alternatives.
Well, if internet blogs say... Of course, internet blogs also say that if and when the fascination with virtual currencies fizzles, all those who are disgusted with the abuse of fiat will not cease from seeking USD, EUR, JPY, GBP and CHF alternatives, but will merely go back to the safety of having hard assets as a currency, namely silver and gold, instead of electronic ones and zeroes, which the US government, in all its Orwellian benevolence may one day, for lack of a better word, hack right out of existence.
On the other hand, the regime's desperation is reaching such a level that a Executive Order 6102-type confiscation of all hard asset currencies may not be far behind.
Because forewarned, is forearmed.
Your rating: None Average: 4.9 (14 votes)
Something extreme is happening in Europe. Since Sunday, Bloomberg Businessweek reports a trio of Bitcoin apps have soared up Spain's download charts, coinciding with news that cash-strapped Cyprus was planning to raid domestic savings accounts to pay off a $13 billion bailout tab. “This is an entirely predictable and rational outcome for what’s happening in Cyprus,” says ConvergEx's Nick Colas. "If you want to get a good sense of the stress European savers are feeling, just watch Bitcoin prices."
The value of the virtual currency has soared almost 30 percent in the last two days. "One hundred percent of that is due to Cyprus," says Colas. "It means the Europeans are getting involved." As German economist Peter Bofinger warned in an interview with Spiegel Online: "European citizens must now fear for their money."
The same apps download data, however, showed that Italians aren’t ready to abandon commercial banking, remarkable as many Italians still recall that black day in 1992 when they woke up to a levy on their savings accounts to prop up the nation’s teetering finances.
The EUR price for a Bitcoin has jumped from around EUR37 to over EUR50 in the last two days as reality hits... and look at the volume...
Nassim Taleb (On Reddit) - via Mike Krieger (@LibertyBlitz):
"Bitcoin is the beginning of something great: a currency without government, something necessary and imperative."
Your rating: None Average: 4.6 (9 votes)
That precious metals are not the best friends of central banks, whose sole provenance is in creating, and lately massively diluting, faith-based fiat currency is no secret, especially not after the recent snafu involving the Bundesbank and its shocking gold repatriation announcement which came in direct refutation of its public statements just 2 months earlier about faith in the NY Fed this, and bashing of a "phantom debate" on the safety of gold reserves that. Yet it was not gold gold, silver or even tungsten that was the object of derision in an amusing paper released by the ECB in early November titled "Virtual Currency Schemes", which we profiled at the time, but rather the decentralized electronic currency BitCoin, which was supposed to highlight what, in the eyes of the Draghi-led Frankfurt institutions, is nothing but a Ponzi scheme.
Why the ECB suddenly felt threatened so much by Bitcoin, it felt an imperative to issue a 55 page paper decrying such electronic currencies we will never know. What we do know, however, courtesy of a reminder by Bloomberg's Max Raskin, is that since the publication of said paper, the value of Bitcoin as tracked by the Mtgox exchange, has soared some 40% in just under three months, from a "fiat equivalent value" of $13 to a most recent closing price of $18.50, and has doubled in the past 12 months alone.
So one wonders: after soaring to an all time high of $30 before crashing concurrent with the epic May 1, 2011 takedown of silver, was none other than the European Central Bank responsible for the recent second coming of BitCoin which is now slowly but surely creeping back to its all time highs, and what happens to all alternative "virtual" currencies once BitCoin returns to all time highs: will the Fed, the ECB, and the BIS have their hands full with pushing gold lower to care too much about this electronic currency, or will their attention then be diverted away from the daily precious metals smackdown to focus on this threat that at least in Europe is so large, the ECB itself had to chime in?
More from Bloomberg:
The CHART OF THE DAY shows that bitcoin has more than doubled in the past 12 months, strengthening to $16.37 from $5.88, according to data from Mt. Gox, the world’s largest bitcoin exchange. The money, issued by a decentralized network of computers, has recovered after falling to $2.14 in November 2011 from a high of $29.58 five months earlier.
Greater demand for virtual currencies could have a negative impact on the reputation of central banks, according to a report published by the European Central Bank in October last year. Since the report was released, bitcoin has risen more than 55 percent against the dollar and use of the currency has surged.
Bitpay Inc., a bitcoin payment processing company that recently raised $510,000 in an investment round, this month announced that the number of companies using its services has increased almost 50 percent to more than 2,000 since November, when blog management firm WordPress.com said it would accept the digital currency.
I think the ECB obviously is concerned, and it’s not reputational,” said Steve Hanke, a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who helped to establish new currency regimes in countries such as Argentina and Bulgaria. “I think it’s a competitive threat. Maybe virtual currencies will be so convenient that they will pose a threat because of their ease of use.”
And as a reminder, for pure comedy value, here is the ECB, again, defining what a Ponzi scheme is without referencing itself even once:
A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk. In many Ponzi schemes, the fraudsters focus on attracting new money to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors and to use for personal expenses, instead of engaging in any legitimate investment activity
Listen to the ECB: if nothing, it certainly is an expert on the topic of Ponzi schemes.
Your rating: None Average: 4.2 (5 votes)
In the 1st installment of this article – May the Odds Ever Be in Your Favor – The Reaping, I addressed how wealth inequality created by men rigging the system and utilizing media propaganda ultimately leads to rebellion. In Part … Continue reading →
MAY THE ODDS EVER BE IN YOUR FAVOR – HOPE & DEFIANCE was originally published on Washington's Blog
Reports are that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is engaged in a massive, covert military buildup. An article in the Associated Press in February confirmed an open purchase order by DHS for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. According to an op-ed in Forbes, that’s enough to sustain an Iraq-sized war for over twenty years. DHS has also acquired heavily armored tanks, which have been seen roaming the streets. Evidently somebody in government is expecting some serious civil unrest. The question is, why?
Recently revealed statements by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the height of the banking crisis in October 2008 could give some insights into that question. An article on BBC News on September 21, 2013, drew from an explosive autobiography called Power Trip by Brown’s spin doctor Damian McBride, who said the prime minister was worried that law and order could collapse during the financial crisis. McBride quoted Brown as saying:
If the banks are shutting their doors, and the cash points aren’t working, and people go to Tesco [a grocery chain] and their cards aren’t being accepted, the whole thing will just explode.
If you can’t buy food or petrol or medicine for your kids, people will just start breaking the windows and helping themselves.
And as soon as people see that on TV, that’s the end, because everyone will think that’s OK now, that’s just what we all have to do. It’ll be anarchy. That’s what could happen tomorrow.
How to deal with that threat? Brown said, “We’d have to think: do we have curfews, do we put the Army on the streets, how do we get order back?”
McBride wrote in his book Power Trip, “It was extraordinary to see Gordon so totally gripped by the danger of what he was about to do, but equally convinced that decisive action had to be taken immediately.” He compared the threat to the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Fear of this threat was echoed in September 2008 by US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who reportedly warned that the US government might have to resort to martial law if Wall Street were not bailed out from the credit collapse.
In both countries, martial law was avoided when their legislatures succumbed to pressure and bailed out the banks. But many pundits are saying that another collapse is imminent; and this time, governments may not be so willing to step up to the plate.
The Next Time WILL Be Different
What triggered the 2008 crisis was a run, not in the conventional banking system, but in the “shadow” banking system, a collection of non-bank financial intermediaries that provide services similar to traditional commercial banks but are unregulated. They include hedge funds, money market funds, credit investment funds, exchange-traded funds, private equity funds, securities broker dealers, securitization and finance companies. Investment banks and commercial banks may also conduct much of their business in the shadows of this unregulated system.
The shadow financial casino has only grown larger since 2008; and in the next Lehman-style collapse, government bailouts may not be available. According to President Obama in his remarks on the Dodd-Frank Act on July 15, 2010, “Because of this reform, . . . there will be no more taxpayer funded bailouts – period.”
Governments in Europe are also shying away from further bailouts. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) in Switzerland has therefore required the systemically risky banks to devise “living wills” setting forth what they will do in the event of insolvency. The template established by the FSB requires them to “bail in” their creditors; and depositors, it turns out, are the largest class of bank creditor. (For fuller discussion, see my earlier article here.)
When depositors cannot access their bank accounts to get money for food for the kids, they could well start breaking store windows and helping themselves. Worse, they might plot to overthrow the financier-controlled government. Witness Greece, where increasing disillusionment with the ability of the government to rescue the citizens from the worst depression since 1929 has precipitated riots and threats of violent overthrow.
Fear of that result could explain the massive, government-authorized spying on American citizens, the domestic use of drones, and the elimination of due process and of “posse comitatus” (the federal law prohibiting the military from enforcing “law and order” on non-federal property). Constitutional protections are being thrown out the window in favor of protecting the elite class in power.
The Looming Debt Ceiling Crisis
The next crisis on the agenda appears to be the October 17th deadline for agreeing on a federal budget or risking default on the government’s loans. It may only be a coincidence, but two large-scale drills are scheduled to take place the same day, the “Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drill” and the “Quantum Dawn 2 Cyber Attack Bank Drill.” According to a Bloomberg news clip on the bank drill, the attacks being prepared for are from hackers, state-sponsored espionage, and organized crime (financial fraud). One interviewee stated, “You might experience that your online banking is down . . . . You might experience that you can’t log in.” It sounds like a dress rehearsal for the Great American Bail-in.
Ominous as all this is, it has a bright side. Bail-ins and martial law can be seen as the last desperate thrashings of a dinosaur. The exploitative financial scheme responsible for turning millions out of their jobs and their homes has reached the end of the line. Crisis in the current scheme means opportunity for those more sustainable solutions waiting in the wings.
Other countries faced with a collapse in their debt-based borrowed currencies have survived and thrived by issuing their own. When the dollar-pegged currency collapsed in Argentina in 2001, the national government returned to issuing its own pesos; municipal governments paid with “debt-canceling bonds” that circulated as currency; and neighborhoods traded with community currencies. After the German currency collapsed in the 1920s, the government turned the economy around in the 1930s by issuing “MEFO” bills that circulated as currency. When England ran out of gold in 1914, the government issued “Bradbury pounds” similar to the Greenbacks issued by Abraham Lincoln during the US Civil War.
Today our government could avoid the debt ceiling crisis by doing something similar: it could simply mint some trillion dollar coins and deposit them in an account. That alternative could be pursued by the Administration immediately, without going to Congress or changing the law, as discussed in my earlier article here. It need not be inflationary, since Congress could still spend only what it passed in its budget. And if Congress did expand its budget for infrastructure and job creation, that would actually be good for the economy, since hoarding cash and paying down loans have significantly shrunk the circulating money supply.
Peer-to-peer Trading and Public Banks
At the local level, we need to set up an alternative system that provides safety for depositors, funds small and medium-sized businesses, and serves the needs of the community.
Much progress has already been made on that front in the peer-to-peer economy. In a September 27th article titled “Peer-to-Peer Economy Thrives as Activists Vacate the System,” Eric Blair reports that the Occupy Movement is engaged in a peaceful revolution in which people are abandoning the established system in favor of a “sharing economy.” Trading occurs between individuals, without taxes, regulations or licenses, and in some cases without government-issued currency.
Peer-to-peer trading happens largely on the Internet, where customer reviews rather than regulation keep sellers honest. It started with eBay and Craigslist and has grown exponentially since. Bitcoin is a private currency outside the prying eyes of regulators. Software is being devised that circumvents NSA spying. Bank loans are being shunned in favor of crowdfunding. Local food co-ops are also a form of opting out of the corporate-government system.
Peer-to-peer trading works for local exchange, but we also need a way to protect our dollars, both public and private. We need dollars to pay at least some of our bills, and businesses need them to acquire raw materials. We also need a way to protect our public revenues, which are currently deposited and invested in Wall Street banks that have heavy derivatives exposure.
To meet those needs, we can set up publicly-owned banks on the model of the Bank of North Dakota, currently our only state-owned depository bank. The BND is mandated by law to receive all the state’s deposits and to serve the public interest. Ideally, every state would have one of these “mini-Feds.” Counties and cities could have them as well. For more information, see http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.
Preparations for martial law have been reported for decades, and it hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully, we can sidestep that danger by moving into a saner, more sustainable system that makes military action against American citizens unnecessary.
Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 200-plus blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.
Filed under: Ellen Brown Articles/Commentary
Over the past month there has been a statistically improbable concurrence of events that can only be explained as a conspiracy to protect the dollar from the Federal Reserve’s policy of Quantitative Easing (QE). Quantitative Easing is the term given to the Federal Reserve’s policy of printing 1,000 billion new dollars annually in order to…
The post Washington Signals Dollar Deep Concerns — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on PaulCraigRoberts.org.
Maher Mocks Catholicism, Argues Religion Is ‘Like Wikipedia’
Posted on Mar 24, 2013
Comedian Bill Maher slammed the Catholic Church during the “New Rules” segment on the latest episode of “Real Time.” Among his complaints, Maher, who was raised Catholic, says he’s tired of the media fawning over everything newly elected Pope Francis does.
“I have just about had it with the press squealing in delight at every mundane thing the new pope does. ‘Oh, look, he walked across the street! He picked the name Francis! He shook hands!’ Oh, fuck, he’s a 76-year-old executive who got a promotion; they act like he’s a baby who just made a boom-boom,” the comedian said on his show Friday night.
Turning his attention toward the religion as a whole, Maher compared the church to his HBO program. Citing several examples of Catholic doctrine not found in the Bible, Maher claimed that the rules were being made up as the religion went along.
“The Catholic Church has basically always done what we do here at ‘Real Time.’ It’s a bunch of guys sitting around making up new rules.”
He concluded, “I tell you, religion, it’s like Wikipedia. Anyone can write something in.”(h/t The Raw Story)
—Posted by Tracy Bloom.
Get truth delivered to
your inbox every week.
Previous item: Have You Heard of Bitcoin?
New and Improved Comments
In 2011 a survey by CyberSource showed that 59% of online merchants felt online fraud to be their biggest business threat, ranking it above systems failure, viruses and theft of customer data.
Since the first day that the internet was used as a marketing and sales platform rather than an information and advertising resource there have been schemes to introduce some kind of internet currency. So far none of the innovations have really taken off, for many reasons, there’s a lack of trust and security, it’s not ‘real’ money and there was no uniformity, no-one accepted all...